The 2019 season offers a chance at redemption for Nebraska football. After back to back 4-8 seasons, the Huskers need to show improvement and Scott Frost will have plenty of opportunities to do so in a year where the bar is set relatively low. While some fans would be happy with simply doubling the win total of the past two years, several national pundits are talking up Nebraska as potential Big Ten champions.
That's largely due to the return of wunderkind sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez. Despite the losses of running back Devine Ozigbo and record-setting wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr., Martinez's abilities and command of the offense gives the Huskers a major edge.
Considered one of the best signal-callers at the position and a Heisman dark horse, Martinez still has JD Spielman as a premiere receiving target along with a number of talented underclassmen.
Perhaps the most notable part of what could be a rebound season for Nebraska is its schedule. Despite being tested early at Colorado in the second game of their season, the Big Red's slate if nothing if not favorable in terms of location.
Four of the toughest draws of the season — Ohio State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Iowa — will all take place in Memorial Stadium. The Huskers may only be truly tested on the road twice. Once during the aforementioned game in Boulder and in traveling to West Lafayette to take on Purdue before a second bye week.
A few of Athlon's editors and a college football contributor stepped up to give their take on Frost's second season with their personal projections for the Huskers' 2019 campaign.
Nebraska Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2019
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The Big Ten West should be a wide-open battle at the top, but I like Nebraska to beat Iowa in the regular-season finale to book a trip to Indianapolis for the conference title game. As evidenced by their 4-2 finish over the last six games of 2018 and another standout recruiting class, the Cornhuskers are trending up entering coach Scott Frost’s second year in Lincoln. Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez is another reason for optimism, as he could be the Big Ten’s best signal-caller by the end of 2019. Nebraska’s defense is a work in progress but should be better as well. The schedule also breaks in favor of the Cornhuskers. Frost’s team does not play Michigan, Michigan State or Penn State in crossover play and Iowa, Wisconsin and Northwestern come to Lincoln. Nebraska might not have the roster to the level Frost wants yet, but the combination of a favorable schedule, program development and Martinez equal a team capable of winning the West in 2019.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Nebraska's record didn't improve in Scott Frost's first season, but the Cornhuskers were a much better team in 2018. In 2017, they were outgained by an average of 0.8 yards per play; last year, they outgained their opponents by 0.5 per play. That swing of 1.3 yards per play is significant. I expect another jump in 2019, and Nebraska will have the wins to show for it, unlike a year ago. Assuming the Huskers take care of business in road trips to Colorado and Illinois (and beat Northern Illinois at home), Lincoln will be on fire when Ohio State comes to town. Beating the mighty Buckeyes would be great, but the games against West Division teams will be more important. I have Nebraska going 4–2 in intra-division games, with the losses at Minnesota and at Purdue. The finale against Iowa could decide the division title.
Brandon Cavanaugh (@eightlaces)
Athlon's preseason magazine has Nebraska going 9-4 while winning the Big Ten West and I agree that the Huskers take their division. However, I feel the Huskers win some closer games with a more solidified culture like what we saw during their 4-2 season finish in 2018 versus the 0-6 start.
Keep in mind several of Nebraska's losses last year were by single-score margins. I think the ability for the Huskers to flip that script should really be noticeable by the end of the regular season. Watch for that versus Wisconsin and Iowa, two games I can see a number of people betting against Nebraska, simply based on losing streaks alone. My picks for losses may come as surprises, but at this time, I see them as ones where the Huskers run out of gas and make a few too many mistakes, respectively.